Illinois Ethics and Professionalism

This area is designed to provide the practioner with an overview of Illinois Ethics opinions, law, attorney CLE requirements and additional resources. Both a detailed summary of an ARDC investigation and a summary of the MCLE requirement is available.

The Preamble to the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct summarizes the standards of professional responsibility for attorneys:

"Lawyers… are responsible for… the availability of competent legal counsel; for maintaining public confidence in the system of justice by acting competently and with loyalty to the best interests of their clients; by working to improve that system to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing society; and by defending the integrity of the judicial system against those who would corrupt, abuse or defraud it.”

The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct govern attorney conduct in Illinois. The rules provide the “mandatory, minimum rules to which attorneys are expected to conform.” Essentially they “constitute a safe guide for professional conduct...” 

The Illinois Supreme Court granted the ARDC the “sole authority to regulate the admission and discipline of lawyers in Illinois.” ApexCLE provides programs about the ARDC and you may review a summary of an ARDC investigation on our site. The proceedings before the ARDC are governed by the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules of the ARDC.

The ARDC investigates thousands of complaints every year resulting in hundreds of discipline hearings and subsequent suspensions or disbarments. Although there are many investigations. The State of Practice 2008 summaries the numbers, identifies the most common areas of investigation and concludes that most attorneys take great care in their practice resulting in relatively few orders of discipline.

Understanding the Illinois MCLE Professionalism CLE Requirement

Illinois lawyers are required to earn four hours of CLE credit that qualifies for Professionalism every two years. A lawyer may earn more than four hours and that will apply to the general CLE requirement. A failure to satisfy the MCLE requirement can result in the removal of the lawyer from the Illinois Master Roll of attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois.

The Supreme Court of Illinois established a minimum continuing legal education ("MCLE") requirement for Illinois attorneys. The MCLE requirement is set forth under Supreme Court Rules 790-798. The full court rules are available on the court’s website.  

 ApexCLE Ethics Material

ARDC Investigations

Summary of MCLE Rules

Summary of CLE Requirement

State of the Practice 2008

Lawyer Assistance Programs

Resources